Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940)


THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940). Director: Rouben Mamoulian.

Diego Vega (Tyrone Power) returns to Los Angeles from Madrid and discovers that in his absence his elderly father (Montagu Love) has been unseated and a petty tyrant, Don Quintero (J. Edward Bromberg), is taxing the people to death and brutalizing the rebellious with the aid of nasty Captain Pasquale (Basil Rathbone). Diego's father is appalled by what his predecessor is doing but can't see himself fighting against the government, no matter how corrupt. Therefore Diego dons the mask of Zorro to fight his people's oppressor, and begins to act as a carefree, callous fop to avoid suspicion focusing upon him. This very good movie about one of the first masked "super-heroes" of sorts is fine entertainment, with smashing performances from all -- this is one of Power's best -- and an excellent sword fight between Power and Rathbone, who is also at his snarling best. Linda Darnell is lovely as the romantic interest and Gale Sondergaard splendid as Quintero's catty and unfaithful wife. Eugene Palette scores as the Padre, and there's a good scene when Power reveals his secret identity to the priest. Bromberg and Love are also in top form. Not as thrilling as the serial Zorro's Fighting Legion but much superior to Zorro Rides Again.

Verdict: Very entertaining classic. ***.

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